Experts say coal plant closure hit workers hard. 

A recent study by the e61 Institute looks at what transpired when twelve coal-fired plants closed between 2010 and 2020.

When Australia closed its dirtiest coal-fired power plant, Hazelwood, in 2017, it aimed to reduce emissions. However, the consequences for the workers were unforeseen. 

The research, examining taxation data, reveals that, on average across all industries, redundant workers earned around 43 per cent less in the year following their job loss. 

Workers from coal-fired power plants fared even worse, experiencing a 69 per cent reduction in earnings.

The causes of such drastic income decline are multifaceted. 

In a recent op-ed, the e61 Institute researchers said these workers often have specialised skills that are not easily transferable, and strong union representation has previously secured high wages for them, making transitions to non-union sectors financially challenging. 

Furthermore, these power plants are vital local employers, and their closures contribute to increased regional unemployment, making it difficult for displaced workers to find suitable jobs unless they relocate. 

Additionally, these workers tend to be older, and data suggests that older workers, in general, fare worse after layoffs compared to their younger counterparts.

The study's findings are especially pertinent, considering that 18 more coal-fired power plants are scheduled to close in the coming years, as part of Australia's effort to combat climate change. 

While these closures serve the nation's environmental interests, they also impose foreseeable, long-lasting economic burdens on a specific group of workers.

In light of this, there is growing support for the idea of providing targeted support to these workers. 

Critics of such targeted support argue that the number of workers affected by coal plant closures is relatively small compared to the overall workforce. 

However, the researchers say that circumstances surrounding these job losses, driven by government decisions and regional implications, warrant a national dialogue on whether special support is justified.